All the yards and points produced by the Oklahoma offense, even the Heisman Trophy collected by Sam Bradford, seem to leave the Florida Gators a little bit, well, unimpressed. Read between the lines in the stories emanating from the Sunshine State and you can almost sense the snickers from the Florida defenders. OU’s record-setting offense, the theory goes, wouldn’t be throwing up any five-game stretches of 60-point poundings in the SEC. "It would have been hard, because the teams in this league can play defense,” Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong told Florida Today. How’s that for some not-so-subtle skepticism? And the message is hardly subtle in an advance warning to the Sooners: get ready, by gosh, for the SEC champion Gators. The span of a year has done much to heal the hurting for the Florida defense. The 2007 Gator unit allowed more points per game – 25.5 – than any defense in school history. Florida might have been a national title team a year ago, if not for its porous defense, which ranked 98th in pass defense and seemingly wasn’t fit to claim itself SEC worthy. All-American linebacker Brandon Spikes, the veteran in a young and overhauled defense, has led a resurgence that has the Gators ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring and total defense. Big and physical at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Spikes delivers production and toughness. Within the program, they say his presence rivals quarterback Tim Tebow. "I look at it like this,” Strong told reporters earlier this season, "Tebow is our leader on offense; Spikes is our leader on defense. "Our offense can’t do without Tebow. We can’t do without Spikes.” A punishing tackler, Spikes leads Florida with 87 tackles.
|Total defense||361.8 (41)||279.3 (9)|
|Scoring defense||25.5 (46)||12.9 (5)|
|Pass defense||258.5 (98)||174.0 (19)|
|Pass efficiency defense||128.7 (71)||94.17 (2)|
|Interceptions||11 (t74)||24 (2)|