Monday, March 06, 2017

Randy Shannon putting his stamp on Gators defense

Randy Shannon at the University of Florida Orange and Blue Debut. / Gators Country photo by David Bowie


MARCH 2, 2017

When Geoff Collins took the head-coaching job at Temple it was merely a matter of time, a formality really, that Randy Shannon would be tabbed as his successor to run the Florida Gators defense. Shannon was given the interim role for the Outback Bowl and the Gators’ defense didn’t miss a beat.

Florida held Iowa to just 55 passing yards — the lowest total yards the Hawkeyes threw for all season. They also surrendered just three points, the lowest points allowed by a Gator team in a bowl game since 1998 (Citrus Bowl).

The defense was a formidable unit all season. They allowed just 1,931 passing yards (148.5 per game) — the least amount of passing yards allowed since 2001. Much of that credit went to player who are currently getting ready for the NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft as well as Collins’ and his defensive scheme and play calling. Shannon served as co-defensive coordinator, but his first opportunity to call plays was the Outback Bowl. Shannon didn’t take long to put his own stamp on the defense either.

We’re going to do good because Coach Shannon is one of the best coaches in the nation. In the nation, country and world,” linebacker Vosean Joseph said. “We just gonna keep it going.”

Shannon’s credentials are undeniable. He’s been a defensive coordinator at two stops in the college ranks and coached linebackers for the Miami Dolphins as well. He’s coached football legends, developed some of the best linebacker n the country and has a National Championship as both a player and a coach. Shannon received the Broyles Award in 2001, recognizing him as the best assistant coach in the nation.

The Gators are losing a lot of talent on defense, eight starters to be exact, but the defense is used to the rumors and talk of a drop in production at Florida.

“You know, that’s every year,” defensive end Keivonnis Davis said. “They be saying the same little rumors and stuff like that, but you know, you come in with a chip on our shoulder ready to prove all them wrong. So we can’t wait.”

The Gators will get back a lot of leadership in defensive backs Duke Dawson, Nick Washington and Marcell Harris. They’re young up front on the defensive line and at linebacker, so Shannon is changing the way the defense communicates. With Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone in the fold last year the defense had two smart, experienced leaders to look to when the bullets started flying and the game got going. Florida simply doesn’t have that luxury in 2017, so Shannon is changing how the defense will communicate on the field.

“Pretty different than last year,” Joseph said of the new style of communicating. “Everybody is more vocal, from the D-line like when they see a formation – we’re going over formations and everything – when they see a formation they call it out and communicate it to us, so we communicate to the secondary and stuff and everybody just talks to each other and makes it way easier and play faster.”

The goal is to play fast, be physical and not let the departures from last year hold the defense back. With Shannon leading the way the group has all the confidence they need to start spring camp.

I feel very confident in our defense and in those young guys because they play as well,” said Davis. “It’s just about bringing everything together. I feel very confident.”

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